Westferry Printworks Development

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 3:41 pm, 24th June 2020

Yes, it was a levy, as the hon. Member is right to point out, so it would not have been his personal money out of his pocket, but it was undoubtedly a saving. After the development was given a direction— I will not say called in, but given a direction, given after the decision was overruled as unlawful—Mr Desmond saved another £106 million or so by including fewer affordable houses. Those are the very homes that many of our key workers require. We have all clapped for them every Thursday. Every Thursday, we hear “Homes for the new heroes!” Surely they need and deserve those homes.

The Housing Minister, at a recent meeting of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, was pressed and pressed again on social housing. How many social houses? What is the target for social housing? How many are going to be built? He was asked four, five or six times, but when we check Hansard to see if there was an answer, we find there was no answer at all—he said there were no targets for social housing, none at all. Under Labour, an average of just under 28,000 social houses to rent were built per year; last year, under this Government, the number was 6,600, although I might be being a little bit generous there. [Interruption.] Don’t talk to me about the definition of affordable housing—the vandalised version, which is no real definition at all. It is not true.

To conclude, the Prime Minister, outlining his expectations in the ministerial code, is very clear that there must not be any misuse of taxpayers’ money and no “actual or perceived” conflicts of interest, as pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central. If the Prime Minister is so confident that the Secretary of State has abided by the code and has nothing to hide, we would expect that he and Government Members will support this Humble Address and publish in full—I stress, in full—all documentation and emails associated with this application. That includes correspondence from the advisers, the lobbyists and the Prime Minister himself—in full. It will be interesting to see what has been spun to the media while we have been having this debate.